What You Have Missed In Goa

Have most of your Goa trips been about partying and clubbing? Well then you’ve surely missed a lot!

So here’s a Goan’s guide to enjoy Goa. This is especially useful if you’re on a family trip or looking to explore the true spirit of Goa.

  1. Talking about spirit, Goa has an ever festive spirit! As a tourist you can choose to enjoy the Christmas and New year festivities or the year round temple Jatras.

Jatras are annual festivals of temples. Most temples in the towns and cities, here host Jatras which attract a lot of attention especially from the locals, they are lavish festivals where famous classical musicians perform, delicious local dishes are served and people arrive dressed up in the best of their silk decked up in heavy gold and diamond jewelry. Unique rituals are performed at these jatras for example Shantadurga temple at veling recently held a grand abhisheka in honor of the main deity,  1000 silver kalashas were involved in this ritual. 

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1000 Silver Kalashas arranged on a Rangoli to honour goddess Shantadurga

There is a unique concept in Goa- Kul devasthans, also known as family temples. Being Goan I have 3 Kul Devasthans here, these are temples my forefathers served at as priests for generations. Such Temple-Family affiliation ensures that people share a sentiment for their Kul dev (deity) and is a reminder of their Goan roots, no matter where they are settled. This relationship shall continue for posterity. Even now as you enter these temples it seems like time has stood still since centuries.

2. Goan beaches are beautiful, it’s not just the golden sand and blue water but also the cool shacks with local treats and peppy goan music, especially in the evenings when the tide is high, the cool breeze just fills you up with delight. My personal Favorite is the Candolim beach! It is very close to Panaji. The shacks here are good but the main attraction is the walk upto the beach, if you ask the locals they’ll direct you to the market road leading to the beach, it has amazing restaurants and shops. The shops sell a range of stuff right from handicrafts to clothes and accessories! The whole street is so ‘Alive’ with soothing melodies playing around and visitors of different nationalities hanging out. It’s one beach you mustn’t miss!! Another beach to visit is the Baga Beach! You also have exclusive access to private beaches when you stay at hotels like Cidade De Goa and the likes.

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Pretty Trinkets I got from shops at candolim beach

3. The Next is Mapusa Market: This is a Hustling Bustling Market selling anything and everything you might want to carry back home, like souvenirs or cakes. I visit this Market to buy Polis. Polis are soft round buns, it is the local bread, there is a whole Poli market, which also offers marzipans and sugar delights during Christmas season. Francis Bakery in Mapusa serves delectable bakery items.

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Delicious cakes from Mapusa Market

4.Panaji: This is a place I spend Maximum amount of time at

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a. It has the best kind of restaurants my personal favorites are :

  1. Chilli and Spice at Fidalgo: It serves yummy risottos, Pastas and Iced Teas, the buffet here is to die for, it’s fantastic!!

 2. Aunt Maria at Fidalgo: Has delicious bakery items and milkshakes.

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d. The festive ferries are popular at Panaji, you can board a carnival ferry or a Casino ferry.  Though I’ve mostly been on the Christmas ferries, maybe you can explore the casino ferry and write to me about it!whatsapp image 2019-01-22 at 02.36.10

e. There is Zantye’s Cashews: It is a very popular cashew store offering a range of flavours and types of Cashews.

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5. The Nature Freak in you would be pleased to explore the following places:

a. Dudhsagar Waterfalls: The waterfall is 60 km from Panaji, the name implies sea of milk. The story behind this name is interesting, The handmaidens of a beautiful princess ,who had just bathed in the waterfall, shielded the princess from a passerby, by pouring milk from a jug, this milk formed a cascading curtain. The waterfall is majestic and a must visit, there are number of adventure treks leading visitors to Dudhsagar!

b. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary: Dr Salim Ali was a popular Indian ornithologist and naturalist, he was known as the Bird Man Of India. This bird Sanctuary has numerous migratory birds and insect species. It Is an estuarine mangrove habitat.

c. Various adventure groups: There are various adventure groups in Goa, they gather for various activities like spotting exotic snakes, rare frog species and even trekking rough terrains.

Goa is fabulous, it has a lot to offer, it could be your place to search for peace and tranquility at various spiritual and religious centers, or your adventure zone, it could even be your foodie’s den or shopper’s paradise, your tanning destination or land of festivities, I hope this post helped you to look at Goa from a whole new lens, as someplace known for more than its party clubs.

So go ahead book your tickets and have a great vacation!

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MAHAKALESHWAR

We’ve stepped into 2019 with great hopes and wishes. But one of the most important of these is Longevity.

So my first post this new year is about a place in India often visited by millions in hope of increasing their lifespan. This well known place is Mahakaleshwar, located in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh. Mahakaleshwara is believed to ward off ‘akal mrutyu’ which is death on account of sudden and unforeseen events.

My first trip to Madhya Pradesh was about a month ago, with family, on my mother’s birthday. Though a short one, it was a wonderful visit. We landed in December the pleasant winter breeze of Indore welcomed us to the Heart of India.

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We drove to our Hotel The Lemon Tree, which has a central location, is close to the airport, has a mall right across the street, and the citrus café here offers delicious meals. The following morning we did a little city tour we visited the Kali Temple and the very Famous Ganesh Temple, later we proceeded toward Ujjain about an hour and a halfs drive from Indore.

Journey by road is very comfortable from Indore to Ujjain, with beautiful open spaces and farm lands. In winter, water brids fly closer to vehicles to take advantage of the heat emitted.

On our arrival at Ujjain we happened to come across the Bharat Mata Mandir few steps away from mahakaleshwara temple. As the name suggests the main deity is Bharat Mata, the goddess who symbolizes India.

Later in the evening at Mahakaleshwara, we were fortunate to get a very short queue. There are times when people have to wait for over half a day to enter the temple, in such cases I would recommend purchasing a VIP pass and joining the VIP queue which is much shorter.

The Jyotirlinga is very creatively decorated every day. With the use of clay, the jyotirlinga is given beautiful facial features and dry fruits are often used as decorative elements. Some days the linga is given the face of lord Ganesha whilst on other days the linga has the face of lord shiva, it is very impressive. Before the gates of the temple close the group of devotees who have waited till the closing time have a chance to enter the sanctum sanctorum.

It was a beautiful experience inside the temple. We even attended the Abhishek the following morning where we offered fresh milk to mahakaleshwara. The temple has a popular early morning ritual called the BHASMA AARTI, at the aarti ,Indian traditional attire is compulsory for all attendees and the pass can be booked online. The temple priest informed me that the Bhasma also includes ash from the cremated remains of human beings.

This does not come as a surprise, Lord Shiva is known to meditate in cremation grounds, as cremation grounds are places where the material desires and the body which yearns to fulfill these desires are burned to ashes.

This temple with its unique rituals and the priceless blessing it bestows upon its devotees, is a popular destination in India and is hence one of the many reasons to visit Madhya Pradesh.

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10 PLACES TO VISIT IN HYDERABAD

Being Currently Based in Hyderabad (India) I invite a lot of people over but no one seems to really believe it’s an ideal tourist spot Until they do actually visit us ,here’s a list of places one could visit in Hyderabad and conclude that it’s actually a great vacation spot!

1. RAMOJI FILM CITY

Spend an entire day here or you could stay here over the weekend

When I first shifted to Hyderabad we decided to stay in RAMOJI to explore every nook and corner of this fantabulous weekend getaway !

A. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED : There’s a bus within Ramoji that is a ticket to explore numerous film sets including those of bollywood and tollywood blockbusters with a tad bit of interesting robotics and similar technology used here and there for shere thrill. The various stops include the sets of  the Epic: MAHABHARATHA, Airport, Bird Park, Butterfly Park, Japanese Garden, Sun fountain as many more, It’s a very unique experience and is a MUST VISIT in Hyderabad and in INDIA for that matter!

B. HAUNTED HOUSE Within Ramoji Filmcity is all Fun and exciting ! It has various Rooms with unique concepts but essentially revolving around the ‘horror’ set up, it’s worth visiting ,though located in the kids zone it is surely for people of all ages !!

C. HOLLYWOOD SHOW: It’s an excellent Live show in a black light set up with people dressed in,and props developed using fluorescent colours popping in and out of the dark  presenting a Grand Musical on Hollywood

D. The WILDWEST SHOW: As the name suggests it’s a skit based in a wildwest set up and is one of the main attractions out here cause it’s a STUNT SHOW and has a slight element of comedy as well it has various SURPRISE elements.

E. OTHER SHOWS : Including the bollywood show (DISCLAIMER: it’s always crowded and though i’ve been to ramoji around 6 times i haven’t been able figure out the secrets that lie within, you can drop me a mail about it incase you’ve been lucky enough to make it to this show) and The Spirit Of Ramoji Show where experts present a series of Dance and other entertainment

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F. TARA SITARA : These are the 2 Hotels inside ramoji, there are some Budget Hotels within ramoji too which include Shantiniketan, But Tara Sitara are the better known ones and have multi-cuisine restaurants too

G. There are many restaurants within ramoji, there’s a food court where they serve italian-oriental-mexican dishes whilst the buffet joint on the opposite side serves indian specialities, there’s hence a lot of variety

H. FOR KIDS: Ramoji is paradise for your little ones, they have many rides, game shows and magic shows for kids there’s a separate place developed specially for the children it’s a nice place even for the adults to check out as they even have provisions for RAIN DANCE , the set up is great with structures of various ZOO animals and Butterflies, caterpillars and even dinosaurs are strategically positioned for this whole area to resemble Toyland.

I. BAHUBALI SETS: For All those who’ve watched Bahubali and even for those who’ve missed it, the sets of this blockbuster film is situated in Ramoji , there’ll be a halt to allow you to explore this Massive Set, (Do Carry hats and scarves since it’s an open ground and the heat might spoil the fun)

J. SAHAS : This place is for all the ADVENTURE JUNKEES! , It’s a wonderful adventure zone having various activities like ATV , BODY ZORB FIGHT , BUNGEE EJECTION, HIGH ROPE COURSE , HUMAN FOOSEBALL , MELTDOWN , MOUNTAIN BIKING , SHOOTING , ARCHERY , PAINT BALL and many more.

K. CARNIVAL PARADES : There are GRAND carnival parades hosted by ramoji with talented dancers and acrobats performing with massive props and wonderful costumes, It’s truly a delight. This takes place in the evening time once all other shows are done for the day. It’s Ramoji’s way of thanking all the visitors and ensuring they visit again, Guess that explains why i’ve been there 6 times and still counting!

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2. SHILPARAMAM

This is a Craft Village co-existing with all the urban infrastructure of hitech city (hyderabad), it’s a wonderful place to visit and if you are born and brought up outside of India it’s a whole new experience, SHILPARAMAM has a typical indian village set up with craft shops in form of cute huts, structures of men and women dressed in traditional attire and involved in daily chores are set up in various areas giving a realistic village set up. It’s a great place to shop gorgeous hand crafted show pieces, Furniture, Garments, cutlery and other kitchen items, one may purchase exotic items like pashmina shawls and traditional jewelry whilst you enjoy the beauty of this place, the prices are negotiable and reasonable but it’ll surely get you thinking of paying for extra luggage on your flight back, after your shopping rampage. For those accompanying you who’re not interested in shopping they could enjoy a short boat ride in the pond that’s located in the heart of shilparamam and can take a nice walk appreciating the spirit of the place as various arts like puppet shows and magic shows are held at short intervals , there’s also a mini hill around which you could take a leisure walk.

3. GOLCONDA FORT : The best time to reach this massive and impressive fort is around 5:30 when the temperature is just right and there’s enough light for you to explore the place about an hour before you gather for THE SOUND AND LIGHT SHOW, not many are aware of this show, it’s a must watch ! The show narrates the history and various facts associated with the GOLCONDA FORT through the medium of sound and light it’s infotainment at its best indeed!

4. CHAR MINAR : Well, this monument is the first thing that comes to the mind of everyone who knows that the city- Hyderabad exists, It’s a monument that also serves as a mosque, it is said that this well known monument that has some elements of persian architecture was built at the very place where Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah had prayed for the eradication of the then wide spread disease -Cholera. There’s a popular market close to the charminar that has shops selling various goods like Bangles, apparels, jewelry and similar items.

5. SNOW WORLD : I would recommend this only if you don’t have a place using this concept in your city already, or if you haven’t been to any place like this before or if you have kids are young, SNOW WORLD is a place where you have some amusing things to do like a mini haunted room- LIVING DEAD, a mini rainforest themed area that’s in a dark room and an area where you have a maze with mirrors all around to add to the confusion as you find your way out, but the main attraction is the SNOW WORLD which is also the name of the main activity area out there, It’s essentially a room that accommodates around 250 people who are required to be wrapped in the winter wear that SNOW WORLD provides including overcoats, caps, gloves and boots. The room is filled with snow and Ice including food items sold in glasses made of ice, there are some fun activities and mini rides inside the room which you can use if you are left with some time to kill as most of it will be consumed in throwing snow balls at each other. In short you’ll be having a great time at snow world

6. TEMPLES : There are various temples one may visit in hyderabad my favorites ones by far are – BIRLA TEMPLE and JAGANNATH TEMPLE beyond the pleasure of meditating out here one would be enchanted by the architecture, wall sculptures ,ambience and beauty of this place.

7. HUSSEIN SAGAR LAKE : Is a huge lake at the center of which is a beautiful budhha statue one could enjoy the boating facility here and dine at any of the best restaurants out here

8. JUBILEE HILLS and BANJARA HILLS 

 I would recommend you to take a nice drive along jubilee hills and banjara hills and dine at any of the restaurants out here , there are various concept restaurants one would spot here serving various cuisines. so choose a cuisine and restaurant of your interest and enjoy the evening !

9. MRUGAVANI RESORT 

This resort is right opposite to mrugavani national park , you may visit mrugavani national park to spot some spotted deer, some birds like the peacock and some small animals like the Fox after this you may visit the mrugavani resort take a stroll and explore the place and have a buffet meal (breakfast/lunch/dinner) at its restaurant.

10. THE MALLS: 

You may be tempted to visit the malls if you can’t get enough of shopping the 3 most popular malls here are 

INORBIT MALL (hitech city) 

FORUM SUJANA MALL (kukatpally)

GVK ONE MALL (banjara hills)

11. BONUS: IKEA – It is a Swedish Multinational Organization dealing in furniture, kitchen and home accessories and appliances, IKEA Launched its first outlet in INDIA on 9th of August, it has multiple storeys housing various sections of items of household needs. It has revolutionised the concept of a mall as it also houses its own food court and a special area designated for kids as well, It’s a great place to shop and hang out!!.

When you have ticked off all items in this list you’d indeed have enjoyed the spirit of hyderabad. Hope you have a great trip! 

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10 PLACES TO VISIT IN HYDERABAD

Being Currently Based in Hyderabad (India) I invite a lot of people over but no one seems to really believe it’s an ideal tourist spot Until they do actually visit us ,here’s a list of places one could visit in Hyderabad and conclude that it’s actually a great vacation spot!

1. RAMOJI FILM CITY

Spend an entire day here or you could stay here over the weekend

When I first shifted to Hyderabad we decided to stay in RAMOJI to explore every nook and corner of this fantabulous weekend getaway !

A. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED : There’s a bus within Ramoji that is a ticket to explore numerous film sets including those of bollywood and tollywood blockbusters with a tad bit of interesting robotics and similar technology used here and there for shere thrill. The various stops include the sets of  the Epic: MAHABHARATHA, Airport, Bird Park, Butterfly Park, Japanese Garden, Sun fountain as many more, It’s a very unique experience and is a MUST VISIT in Hyderabad and in INDIA for that matter!

B. HAUNTED HOUSE Within Ramoji Filmcity is all Fun and exciting ! It has various Rooms with unique concepts but essentially revolving around the ‘horror’ set up, it’s worth visiting ,though located in the kids zone it is surely for people of all ages !!

C. HOLLYWOOD SHOW: It’s an excellent Live show in a black light set up with people dressed in,and props developed using fluorescent colours popping in and out of the dark  presenting a Grand Musical on Hollywood

D. The WILDWEST SHOW: As the name suggests it’s a skit based in a wildwest set up and is one of the main attractions out here cause it’s a STUNT SHOW and has a slight element of comedy as well it has various SURPRISE elements.

E. OTHER SHOWS : Including the bollywood show (DISCLAIMER: it’s always crowded and though i’ve been to ramoji around 6 times i haven’t been able figure out the secrets that lie within, you can drop me a mail about it incase you’ve been lucky enough to make it to this show) and The Spirit Of Ramoji Show where experts present a series of Dance and other entertainment

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F. TARA SITARA : These are the 2 Hotels inside ramoji, there are some Budget Hotels within ramoji too which include Shantiniketan, But Tara Sitara are the better known ones and have multi-cuisine restaurants too

G. There are many restaurants within ramoji, there’s a food court where they serve italian-oriental-mexican dishes whilst the buffet joint on the opposite side serves indian specialities, there’s hence a lot of variety

H. FOR KIDS: Ramoji is paradise for your little ones, they have many rides, game shows and magic shows for kids there’s a separate place developed specially for the children it’s a nice place even for the adults to check out as they even have provisions for RAIN DANCE , the set up is great with structures of various ZOO animals and Butterflies, caterpillars and even dinosaurs are strategically positioned for this whole area to resemble Toyland.

I. BAHUBALI SETS: For All those who’ve watched Bahubali and even for those who’ve missed it, the sets of this blockbuster film is situated in Ramoji , there’ll be a halt to allow you to explore this Massive Set, (Do Carry hats and scarves since it’s an open ground and the heat might spoil the fun)

J. SAHAS : This place is for all the ADVENTURE JUNKEES! , It’s a wonderful adventure zone having various activities like ATV , BODY ZORB FIGHT , BUNGEE EJECTION, HIGH ROPE COURSE , HUMAN FOOSEBALL , MELTDOWN , MOUNTAIN BIKING , SHOOTING , ARCHERY , PAINT BALL and many more.

K. CARNIVAL PARADES : There are GRAND carnival parades hosted by ramoji with talented dancers and acrobats performing with massive props and wonderful costumes, It’s truly a delight. This takes place in the evening time once all other shows are done for the day. It’s Ramoji’s way of thanking all the visitors and ensuring they visit again, Guess that explains why i’ve been there 6 times and still counting!

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2. SHILPARAMAM

This is a Craft Village co-existing with all the urban infrastructure of hitech city (hyderabad), it’s a wonderful place to visit and if you are born and brought up outside of India it’s a whole new experience, SHILPARAMAM has a typical indian village set up with craft shops in form of cute huts, structures of men and women dressed in traditional attire and involved in daily chores are set up in various areas giving a realistic village set up. It’s a great place to shop gorgeous hand crafted show pieces, Furniture, Garments, cutlery and other kitchen items, one may purchase exotic items like pashmina shawls and traditional jewelry whilst you enjoy the beauty of this place, the prices are negotiable and reasonable but it’ll surely get you thinking of paying for extra luggage on your flight back, after your shopping rampage. For those accompanying you who’re not interested in shopping they could enjoy a short boat ride in the pond that’s located in the heart of shilparamam and can take a nice walk appreciating the spirit of the place as various arts like puppet shows and magic shows are held at short intervals , there’s also a mini hill around which you could take a leisure walk.

3. GOLCONDA FORT : The best time to reach this massive and impressive fort is around 5:30 when the temperature is just right and there’s enough light for you to explore the place about an hour before you gather for THE SOUND AND LIGHT SHOW, not many are aware of this show, it’s a must watch ! The show narrates the history and various facts associated with the GOLCONDA FORT through the medium of sound and light it’s infotainment at its best indeed!

4. CHAR MINAR : Well, this monument is the first thing that comes to the mind of everyone who knows that the city- Hyderabad exists, It’s a monument that also serves as a mosque, it is said that this well known monument that has some elements of persian architecture was built at the very place where Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah had prayed for the eradication of the then wide spread disease -Cholera. There’s a popular market close to the charminar that has shops selling various goods like Bangles, apparels, jewelry and similar items.

5. SNOW WORLD : I would recommend this only if you don’t have a place using this concept in your city already, or if you haven’t been to any place like this before or if you have kids are young, SNOW WORLD is a place where you have some amusing things to do like a mini haunted room- LIVING DEAD, a mini rainforest themed area that’s in a dark room and an area where you have a maze with mirrors all around to add to the confusion as you find your way out, but the main attraction is the SNOW WORLD which is also the name of the main activity area out there, It’s essentially a room that accommodates around 250 people who are required to be wrapped in the winter wear that SNOW WORLD provides including overcoats, caps, gloves and boots. The room is filled with snow and Ice including food items sold in glasses made of ice, there are some fun activities and mini rides inside the room which you can use if you are left with some time to kill as most of it will be consumed in throwing snow balls at each other. In short you’ll be having a great time at snow world

6. TEMPLES : There are various temples one may visit in hyderabad my favorites ones by far are – BIRLA TEMPLE and JAGANNATH TEMPLE beyond the pleasure of meditating out here one would be enchanted by the architecture, wall sculptures ,ambience and beauty of this place.

7. HUSSEIN SAGAR LAKE : Is a huge lake at the center of which is a beautiful budhha statue one could enjoy the boating facility here and dine at any of the best restaurants out here

8. JUBILEE HILLS and BANJARA HILLS 

 I would recommend you to take a nice drive along jubilee hills and banjara hills and dine at any of the restaurants out here , there are various concept restaurants one would spot here serving various cuisines. so choose a cuisine and restaurant of your interest and enjoy the evening !

9. MRUGAVANI RESORT 

This resort is right opposite to mrugavani national park , you may visit mrugavani national park to spot some spotted deer, some birds like the peacock and some small animals like the Fox after this you may visit the mrugavani resort take a stroll and explore the place and have a buffet meal (breakfast/lunch/dinner) at its restaurant.

10. THE MALLS: 

You may be tempted to visit the malls if you can’t get enough of shopping the 3 most popular malls here are 

INORBIT MALL (hitech city) 

FORUM SUJANA MALL (kukatpally)

GVK ONE MALL (banjara hills)

11. BONUS: IKEA – It is a Swedish Multinational Organization dealing in furniture, kitchen and home accessories and appliances, IKEA Launched its first outlet in INDIA on 9th of August, it has multiple storeys housing various sections of items of household needs. It has revolutionised the concept of a mall as it also houses its own food court and a special area designated for kids as well, It’s a great place to shop and hang out!!.

When you have ticked off all items in this list you’d indeed have enjoyed the spirit of hyderabad. Hope you have a great trip! 

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UDUPI

This is especially for all the overseas subscribers of my blog

Visitors from outside of India are ideally pulled to the metro cities of India which you can’t deny have more or less a westernised infrastructure and they end up enjoying and observing the uniqueness of our beautiful nation to a limited extent

I often encourage people to visit unconventional places so that they can enjoy the true spirit of India which is symbolised by diversity in demography as well as in geography

One of my recent visits was to Udupi (Karnataka)

Udupi is a beautiful city in the state of karnataka , The proximity of Udupi to many important towns and cities is what I love about it, Mangalore airport is about an hour away from Udupi.

Here’s why you should look forward to visiting udupi:

1. AMBALPADI TEMPLE :

I spend hours here, during each of my trips to udupi. The Main Idol is carved out of the bark of a Jackfruit tree and is around 400 years old. There’s also a  Janardhana temple within the compound of the main temple. It is a peaceful place to be at and is associated with several miraculous incidents, About 25 years ago a Woman entered the temple premises with some offerings for the divine mother, but the Ambalpadi(goddess) temple inside was closed, the upset devotee sat chanting prayers for Mother and that’s when the goddess herself appeared before her to accept the offerings. This temple also hosts numerous rituals and is famous for the variety of prasadam(temple meals) offered on a banana leaf. The  temple also has a backyard garden and a pond in front of it adding to the aesthetic beauty of the place.

 

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ambalpadi temple

2. MANIPAL :

Manipal is a town located very close to udupi. It has numerous educational institutions having a wide acclaim from people within and outside India. The university crowd is very cosmopolitan owing to the diversity of students coming from india and abroad. There are many fun places to hangout here with numerous restaurants and hotels surrounding this place.

a. Dollops : This is a fun food joint serving a range of cuisines to satisfy your taste buds. I recommend – Egg Plant in hot garlic sauce and their milkshakes! The rest is your choice, but it surely is a must visit.

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dollops restaurant

 

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a great place to hang out with family and friends

b. Onesta : This is Karnataka’s very own Pizza joint and is popular amongst the students in manipal, the range of calzones, pizzas, desserts and soft beverages makes it a great option for all visitors.

c. Venugopal temple: It is a famous temple in manipal. The main deity is lord krishna. The architecture of this temple is very unique the roof of the temple is a huge dome it reminds me of a butter ball. It is a must visit in manipal.

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venugopal main temple

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LORD VENUGOPALA

 

3. KARKALA :

I would strongly recommend visitors especially those from other countries to visit small towns like karkala to experience new cultures and life-styles . The central location of Udupi facilitates transport to various towns and cities. The small town of  Karkala with population of about 26000 derives its name from kari-kal that is black stone in TULU a language spoken in some parts of karnataka, it shouldn’t be surprising that black granite is unusually common in this area. Another language spoken here is KONKANI which happens to be my mother toungue ! The drive from udupi to karkala is beautiful, one comes across lush green spaces and little houses every now and then. Though we hire a car in udupi i love to take a bus ride to Karkala, it is a different experience travelling with the locals chattering in their unique mother tongue, the wind playing with your hair as you slide the window open, the fragrance of the first rain in the region and the rare interaction you have with travellers who’ve been shuttling between towns on account of employment. in karkala there are some places one could visit:

a. Venkatramana temple:

it is also known as padutirupathi temple, it’s said that if one is unable to make it to the popular pilgrimage destination-Tirupathi due to any reason one must visit this temple.

My grandmother was born and brought up within the compounds of this temple, i have a sentimental attachment to this place, it is amazing to imagine her as a little girl running around the pillars of the temple, it reminds me of the stories she told me about the beautiful carvings of grapevines and sparrows on these pillars. I recommend this place to people not because it is a unique experience for me but because it is so well maintained and peaceful inside that one may not want to leave the place for hours!

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b. Hanuman Temple : Opposite the venkatramana temple is the hanuman temple where one would fine a massive idol of lord hanuman covered with Orange sindoor, it is a small temple but the visit to karkala is incomplete without paying a visit to Lord Ram’s (a form of lord venkatramana) beloved devotee hanumantha.

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c. Gomateshwara statue : Karkala was ruled by Jain Bhairarasa Odeyars who worshipped  lord Gomateshwara, hence there is a tall statue of this saint who is said to have meditated motionless for one year in standing posture later attaining omniscience.

d. FOOD : With limited options i generally recommend dining at ‘Sagar’ it serves delicious south indian and north indian delights

e. Snacks: There are some unique snacks available in this part of south india, I would recommend picking up Banana chips , Jack fruit chips , sweet potato chips most of them fried in Coconut Oil, other items that could be taken home and later deep fried (healthy option- put it in the air fryer) include- vodi (onion/garlic fritters), potato papad, jackfruit papad and many more!

4. UDUPI KRISHNA TEMPLE :

This place is in udupi, it is a very famous temple and has some other temples around it ( eg. raghavendra swami temple) . There is a moving story behind this temple’s main idol. Kanakadasa was a devotee of lord krishna and lived in a hut in front of the gopura of the temple, he was not allowed to enter the temple on account of belonging to a lower caste and a wall separated the devotee from the deity’s idol, But one night a tremor cracked the wall and the east facing idol rotated to the west to bless his devotee, it was a wonderful lesson to one and all – Caste and status meant nothing to the lord, Devotion was all that mattered. The wall was never fixed infact a window was built in the wall to allow everyone a darshan even from outside the temple.

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5.BEACH AND OTHER FUN PLACES: There are many other places to visit in and around udupi including the Malpe beach, St. Mary’s Island, Kudu falls, Mattu beach

6. MITRA SAMAJ: This is a wonderful restaurant with a modest ambience but delicious food. It is the Birthplace of the all time favorite Masala Dosa. It’s our standard breakfast joint, we feast on their specialities: Masala Puri, Manglorian Buns, Vada Sambar, Masala Dosa, Idly and Filter coffee. It is right behind the udupi krishna temple

7. DIANA ICE CREAM : The king of Ice-creams in Udupi. It is a well known joint I have been visiting since childhood. Some of their specialities are Gadbad ice-cream, Horlicks Cake, Vegetable Cutlet, Dahi Vada. It serves yummy north indian and chinese items too ( chinese items in india could be very spicy for the residents of other countries)

You could take a flight to mangalore and drive to Udupi and the places around it, I love staying in udupi because it’s an experience very different from the usual metro-city life that i tend to lead. The list summarises the true flavour of a Udupi local’s weekends in the city. So go ahead and book your tickets !

 

AKKALKOT- Swami Samartha

I drove for an hour and a half  from Tuljapur to Akkalkot and had plans to stay in Solapur (further an hour away) that night. But i changed my plans…read on….

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The drive from Tuljapur to Akkalkot (BOTH IN MAHARASHTRA) was picturesque, there were landscaped hills and farms everywhere, a couple of ponds peeked at us from between the bushes, little huts and houses of farmers marked the presence of human life. Goats and Cows were grazing on the lush green grass and every now and then a herder would use a stick on the most mischievous of the lot as if reprimand them.

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When we reached Akkalkot we were so impressed by the little town, there were little lanes with colorful houses,  people wore traditional attire in varied colors and there were bhajans playing all around (songs sung in praise of the lord), though there were no elite hotels there was a temple Guest house that had non-a.c and a.c. rooms available if you ask me the A.C. delux and A.C. VIP DELUX are better options , We were glad to eat the Dinner offered by the temple to its devotees(fabulous lunch also available), the food was delicious later We proceeded for the Main temple where we attended the Aarti performed in front of the deity-A renowned Indian saint SWAMI SAMARTHA, the temple is a walking distance from the guest house and it’s food hall. One of the reasons why it’s a renowned temple is that the bed of swami samartha is kept here and it’s one of the places swami samartha used to be at.

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In fact a tree in the compound of the temple has projections which have taken an exact formation of the hands and feet of the deity, it’s indeed a miracle to notice the perfect formation and one can even touch the formations and ask for a wish which shall be granted.

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After an wonderful darshan we took our leave for the evening and decided to stay in akkalkot that night as it is a place very different from what we have seen before it has beautiful Sculptures of SWAMI SAMARTHA, SHIVAJI MAHARAJ and his army, we concluded our day with a lovely Kulfi (indianised version of ice-cream) available outside the guest house, In the morning we started on our way back to Hyderabad we had some Misal Pao a traditional Marathi dish from a stall outside, there are numerous stalls five steps away from the guest house offering many traditional Indian dishes for breakfast and snack time, whilst lunch and dinner are taken care of by the temple. On the way we stopped and prayed at the SAMADHI of the Indian saint, It was a Fantastic trip to the town of SWAMI SAMARTHA who would always re-assure his devotees by the words  ‘Bhiu Nakos Mee Tuzya Paathishi Aahe’ ( भिऊ नकोस, मी तुझ्या पाठीशी आहे.)  translated as ‘NEVER FEAR I’LL ALWAYS BE THERE FOR YOU’.

 

 

 

TULJAPUR

I just returned from a great trip-Tuljapur, Most Indians are aware of the significance of this place and for the rest of you here it is!

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This picture of maa bhavani appears on mementos sold outside the temple: photography is prohibited within temple premises

This Destination in Maharashtra is of historic significance as the TULJABHAVANI TEMPLE is located here, It is believed that the goddess (MAA BHAVANI) once presented a sword to CHHATRAPATI SHIVAJI MAHARAJ who was a huge devotee of MAA BHAVANI. This story motivated his troops as they were ever confident of their victory as long as they had the deity’s blessings! This blessing and the Faith of his troops coupled with Shivaji Maharaj’s leadership, Tact and intelligence has worked wonders, Shivaji led his troops to numerous victories even when they were gravely outnumbered and were faced with impossible circumstances.

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Picture of  the gate of the Temple from outside

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Offering shops outside the temple and thousands of devotees

I drove from Hyderabad(telangana) to Tuljapur(Maharashtra), it was a smooth highway and the ride was comfortable we reached tuljapur in the afternoon, bought the necessary offerings and headed straight towards the temple, the weather was great and the colorful shades of the offering stores were slow-dancing in the breeze, the whole atmosphere was so different, one could appreciate the spiritual significance of this place as thousands of devotees headed to the entrance, we opted for the PAID DARSHAN to avoid too much crowd and to See the deity from the closest permissible distance that is 10 feet( the Free darshan allows you to see the deity from a distance of 20 feet), As we stepped into the temple premises we could smell the fragrance and see the presence of Turmeric and Sindoor all around as it is a traditional hindu offering to a female deity in India, there was also a diya(lamp) where one could offer Oil, it is a good omen to ensure a diya never exhausts itself ,through continuous supply of oil and other materials. Since photography isn’t allowed within the temple one has to visit the place to see how colorful and beautiful it is inside,

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TULJABHAVANI LADOO PRASAD: traditional indian sweet available at the temple

We spent very little time in queue before we had the opportunity to be present before maa bhavani, she looked beautiful her eyes were bright and clear filled with enough compassion to sustain the whole of humanity. It was a beautiful experience to be in the same corridors, that have once had the opportunity to witness KING SHIVAJI, the pride of india,himself. As we stepped out of the temple all of us felt the urge to see the goddess once again until next time , we headed for ‘mukh darshan’ which means to see the goddess from a distance of 40 feet, it was again a short queue and we spent a whole of twenty minutes there admiring her from a distance, right behind us was the idol of her husband , Lord Bhavani Shankar we offered our prayers and left for our next destination AKKALKOT.

 

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The work on the copper plate next to the image of maa bhavani is of astrological significance

If you visit tuljapur, you could stay in solapur which has a variety of good hotels and restaurants.(TULJAPUR AND SOLAPUR are 45 kms apart)

 

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